USO Greater Los Angeles Area and Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys are breaking ground on a new Habitat Enriched Neighborhood and memorial for veterans in Santa Clarita.
To celebrate the groundbreaking, the two organizations are throwing a large-scale festival and fundraiser in celebration of Veteran’s Day on Nov. 9.
Built in collaboration with the California Department of Veteran Affairs, the Enriched Neighborhood™ provides no-cost social and educational services, including financial education, health information, dental hygiene, veteran assistance, homeowner education classes and children’s programs such as after-school tutoring.
The new homes will serve low-income veteran families and offer them an opportunity to acquire a piece of the American Dream.
USO Greater Los Angeles Area (USO GLAA) provides USO services to more than 130,000 members of the military and their families from throughout Southern California.
It operates airport centers at LAX, Ontario International Airport and Palm Springs International Airport, and provides USO programming and outreach at military installations around the region.
Earlier this summer, the USO launched a new national campaign called Barbecue For The Troops that called on all Americans to fire up the grill and turn the quintessential backyard barbecue into an easy fundraiser to support the troops and their families. More than 1,000 people across the country signed up to host their own barbecue fundraiser. As part of their 25th anniversary in the Santa Clarita Valley, Rattler’s Bar B Que, which has long been a popular dining destination best known for its value-oriented menu and many barbecue selections, will serve up a full lunch spread for 1,000 guests.
Menu items will include Mesquite BBQ Tri Tip and Chicken Breast, Twice Baked Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Meatless BBQ Chopped Salad and Freshly Baked Garlic Rolls.
All proceeds go to support USO GLAA programs for troops and their families, and ongoing support for the Habitat Enriched Neighborhood™ model for veterans. Admission for adults is $20, children 12 and under is $15; military and veterans with proof of service can attend for free.
“A partnership with Habitat for Humanity SF/SCV to build homes for veterans aligns perfectly with the USO’s initiative to support our brave service members’ transition from the battlefield to a bright future in the civilian world,” says Bob Kurkjian, Executive Director of USO GLAA.
“Veterans and their families can face many challenges in the transition from military life to civilian life, and may struggle with finding employment and housing. A Habitat Enriched Neighborhood brings veterans together in a safe, family-friendly community and gives them access to a variety of training to help them succeed and thrive.”
Mark Valley, a Gulf War veteran and actor who has appeared in “Body of Proof” and “Harry’s Law,” will serve as ceremonial construction team leader with the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC).
The EIC is a nonprofit organization that promotes the accurate depiction of health and social issues—including veterans’ issues— in film, television and music.
“We are very excited about our collaboration with the California Department of Veteran Affairs, which brings an 87-home Enriched Neighborhood to a veteran community whose needs are greatly underserved,” says Donna Deutchman, CEO of Habitat for Humanity SF/SCV.
“The Enriched Neighborhood model allows veterans and their families to be part of a planned community that is also child-friendly. They can take pride in maintaining a new home that incorporates green standards like solar power, and enjoy an urban community garden to plant their own fruits and vegetables. Our partnership with USO GLAA also ensures that they will have access to valuable services and programs as they grow to be self-sufficient.”
No festival would be complete without games, entertainment and a chili cookoff.
Afternoon entertainment includes a USO-style entertainment show, emceed by K-Earth 101’s Gary Bryan, and includes actor Melora Hardin from “The Office” and others to be announced.
The interactive game area will be open all day, and includes the Imagination Playground provided by Radio Disney with the Radio Disney Los Angeles Road Crew on site to pump up the crowd.
The winner of the International Chili Society sanctioned cookoff will be eligible to go on to compete at the 2014 World’s Championship Chili Cookoff. Attendees can also pose for pictures with real military vehicles, pick up information from the military/veterans resource area and tour a Windows Between Worlds art show.
Presenting Sponsors of the event include Home Depot, Disney and Rattler’s Bar B Que, with additional sponsorships from Citibank, Galpin Motors, Southern California Gas Company, Andy Gump, KHTS-AM, The Child & Family Center of Santa Clarita, Burrtec Waste and local veteran service organizations.
About USO Greater Los Angeles Area
USO Greater Los Angeles Area provides USO services and programming to all of Southern California north of San Diego. An independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization operating under a charter from USO, Inc., we provide morale and recreational services to members of the U.S. military. We operate airport centers at LAX, Ontario International Airport and Palm Springs International Airport, as well as providing USO programming and outreach at military installations across Southern California. Although congressionally chartered, we are not a government agency and rely entirely on contributions from patriotic Americans and philanthropic corporations and organizations. Each year, we provide direct service to over 100,000 military members, their families and eligible military retirees in Southern California.
About Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valley
Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valleys was founded in 1990 as an affiliate for Habitat of Humanity International. We are a locally run, independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving North Los Angeles County, building houses for low‐income working families and veteran families. To date, we have built 223 homes and are among the top 5 percent of Habitat affiliates nationwide to reach this goal. This is a new kind of Habitat, for a new generation.